Thieves Like Us (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

Thieves Like Us (1974)

Thieves Like Us

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Movie Info

Released in the same 12-month span as Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973) and Steven Spielberg's The Sugarland Express (1974), Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974) also tells a story of doomed outlaws in love. Depression-era criminals T-Dub (Bert Remsen), Chicamaw (John Schuck), and Bowie (Keith Carradine) band together to rob banks after escaping from a prison farm. Hiding out with Dee Mobley (Tom Skerritt) and Keechie (Shelley Duvall), and then with T-Dub's in-law Mattie (Louise Fletcher) between bank jobs, the three crooks are a loyal group, but increasingly sensational news accounts of their bloodless robberies force them to split up before their next crime. After a car accident, Chicamaw leaves the injured Bowie in Keechie's care. Love blossoms between the two na´fs, compelling Bowie to find a way to balance his bond to Keechie with his loyalty to his friends and the need for money to head for Mexico. With the law closing in, Bowie and Keechie learn the hard way about the finite honor among thieves, and the need to survive. Adapted from the same Edward Anderson novel as Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (1949), Altman, writers Calder Willingham and Joan Tewkesbury, and Altman's acting "regulars" reworked not just the classical crime movie but also the 1967 hit Bonnie and Clyde, presenting a resolutely unglamorous portrait of this Coke-swilling outlaw couple and the survivors' stoic drive to carry on. With the radio providing soundtrack and commentary, and the newspapers sending a veiled warning, Bowie and Keechie cannot escape the outside world, but they also cannot transcend it into the realm of myth. Rather than turning the crimes into stylish exploits, Altman's camera remains outside most of the robberies, observing the banal action on the street; he saves the slow-motion in the climactic shoot-out for the witnesses rather than the dead. His zoom shots hover between fragments of emotion and place, while they maintain their observational distance. Unfortunately for Altman (and Malick and Spielberg), audiences preferred outlaw glamour to genre-bending introspection. Still, with its deceptively laid-back tone, eye for expressive detail, and ear for ironic juxtaposition, Thieves Like Us takes its place in Altman's exceptional body of early 1970s work.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Calder Willingham, Robert Altman, Joan Tewkesbury
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 17, 2007
Runtime:
United Artists

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Cast

John Schuck
as Chicamaw
Tom Skerritt
as Dee Mobley
Al Scott
as Capt. Stammers
Joan Tewkesbury
as Lady in Train Statio...
Edward Fisher
as Bank Hostage
Josephine Bennett
as Bank Hostage
Howard Warner
as Bank Hostage
Eleanor Matthews
as Mrs. Stammers
Rodney Lee Jr.
as James Mattingly
Pam Warner
as Woman in Accident
Suzanne Majure
as Coca-Cola Girl
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Critic Reviews for Thieves Like Us

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (7)

Robert Altman finds a sure, soft tone in this movie, from 1974, and he never loses it.

Full Review… | December 8, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

In many ways, Thieves Like Us is Altman's best work yet, his most stringent and evocative.

Full Review… | May 23, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

At times unbearably objective.

Full Review… | May 23, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Thieves Like Us proves that when Robert Altman has a solid story and script, he can make an exceptional film, one mostly devoid of clutter, auterist mannerism, and other cinema chic.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

Never portentous, never a mere spoof, this is a touching, intelligent, and -- in its own small way -- rather wonderful movie.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It is full of things to think about, that hang in the memory like the details of a banal crime story on page 32, which, though read quickly, won't go away. Somehow you know that this happened.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Thieves Like Us

A minor work for Altman but still another exceptional film in his genre experimentation period.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

½

Altman does Bonnie & Clyde.

kenstachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

½

altman's idiosyncratic update of nicholas ray's they live by night. carradine and duvall are sweet and gawky as the doomed lovers. great soundtrack of depression era radio shows really sets the mood. a somewhat forgotten altman but i think it's every bit as good as ray's film if not better. the source novel from 1937 was inspired by the real lives of bonnie and clyde. of course, being an altman film, it's more about the characters than the plot

rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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